Starboy Shines, Kinda: The Weeknd's Phoenix Show Wasn't the Stuff of Legend
"Let a n*gga Brad Pitt / Legend of the fall took the year like a bandit."
When The Weeknd sings this line in "Starboy," two things come to mind: Brad Pitt shirtless and The Weeknd's epic year. It takes a pretty confident guy to compare himself to Brad Pitt circa 1994, then compare his success to one of his movies, and then name his tour after said movie.
So when Abel "The Weeknd" Tesfaye brought his Starboy: Legend of the Fall Tour to downtown Phoenix's Talking Stick Resort Arena, there was just one question to answer. Could he deliver a Brad Pitt performance?
And the answer is, well, kinda.
The tour has become a hot-ticket item due to the popularity of Starboy, which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, and Tesfaye's notable rise to pop culture icon status.
While some may credit his level of fame to the pretty brunettes on his arm (currently Selena Gomez, previously Bella Hadid), the Canadian-born musician has actually been in the music industry since 2010. Dealing in mixtapes until his debut album, Kissland, in 2013, The Weeknd has since become a hit-maker, with three chart-topping singles, and a household name.
And during his May 2 concert, that was clear. The venue was packed wall to wall with Weeknd fans, a group that looked like they would've been ordering bottle service at Cake in Scottsdale if not for this concert. They were eager to turn up on a Tuesday as The Weeknd's openers took stage.
Rae Sremmurd riled up the crowd with "No Flex Zone." Unsurprisingly, two shirtless 20-somethings parading on stage got the crowd moving. You could just feel the Snapchats permeate the arena — even though they skipped their biggest single, "Black Beatles."
They wrapped their set and, before you could even blink your eyes, The Weeknd appeared in a spaceship. Obviously.
He immediately jumped into "Starboy" and brought the Brad Pitt bravado. The crowd lingered on his every word. His vocals were on point. And the live band behind him seemed like a mere side note compared to his stage presence.
He rattled off hit after hit, begging the question: What was he saving for the latter half of the show, let alone the encore?
Around 30 minutes in, Tesfaye settled into "Sidewalks," whose record version features Kendrick Lamar. Immediately, you can feel a shift in the crowd. Phones are out and everyone is expecting one thing: Kendrick Lamar to make a guest appearance. To be fair, it wasn't an unlikely assumption, since he did make an appearance at The Weeknd's recent Los Angeles show, but it was definitely a long shot.
With Lamar nowhere in sight, "Sidewalks" wound down — and so did the show's high energy.
Perhaps he had partied too hard the night before with Gomez at the Met Gala? Hard to say. Ironically, the singer then transitioned into "Often," which brags about his stamina. This is also the first point in the night when he turned the mic to the audience, letting them do the singing for him.
That gear shift was permanent, and from that point on, The Weeknd played his slower, sexier jams.
After a melancholy and stripped down version of "Angel," the buzz officially had worn off. It was time to sit down or make a break for the bathroom.
Thankfully, Rae Sremmurd re-emerged to perform "Black Beatles" with The Weeknd, jolting the crowd back to Earth. While this could have been a great opportunity for The Weeknd to reignite some of his mojo, it seemed more like an inconspicuous break for the singer, while his openers livened up the crowd.
Unfortunately, Rae Sremmurd's performance didn't ignite The Weeknd, and he continued on to play a few more songs until coming back for a short encore with "The Hills."
This wasn't a Brad Pitt Legends of the Fall performance. It was a Troy performance at best. But hey, being a bandit who just took the year sounds pretty exhausting.
Last Night: The Weeknd at Talking Stick Resort Arena
The crowd: Scottsdale night club on a Monday night. Sure, they were probably at the club on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night, too. But who's counting?
Overheard: "We're gonna need more beer than this for the Hall & Oates show." We now live in a world where the Hall & Oates show is more lit than The Weeknd show.
Notebook dump: I've never seen so many girls in short shorts and heels. Is this an Arizona thing? Is this a thing at all? Regardless, not a fan, and enjoy the blisters.
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